The problem with emotional healing
I know what I’m about to share is not what most of you want to hear. But read on to find out for yourself.
Hint: It might change your perspective on the “traditional” view on healing.
Before we start, I would like to emphasise that I’m not here to give you what you want to hear in the first place. There are enough people out there doing that already, promoting “quick-fixes” and “magical work”.. without lasting results. Coaches calling you “babe”, treating you like their “bestie”. I just had this conversation with a good friend a few days ago. If you are looking for a best friend, I am sorry to disappoint you. I’m here to inspire you to change your perspective on common perspectives and give you the practical tools you can use on your own. Those tools that ACTUALLY work and I have seen many people successfully implementing them (without sharing anywhere in the online world!). And I am certain that they will bring forth the same results for you – your consistency and persistence presupposed.
That is: I provide. You do the work!
So let’s do this! 💪🏼
Emotional healing is not quite like physical healing.
While physical healing requires rest, emotional healing requires consistent work.
Let me start with a little personal story about physical pain.
When I was in my teens, I had a really bad fracture in my right wrist, after getting hit by a hockey ball. (For those of you who didn’t know, I was an ambitious hockey and tennis player as well as a graceful ballet dancer. I loved the balance between ambition and gracefulness, group and solo performance, effort and ease. That’s why I love Yoga so much!). When I ended up waiting at the nearby hospital after the hockey ball hit me, I remember how angry and sad I was, because the incident happened only a couple of days before the long summer holiday was about to start.
The doctors told me it would take at least (!) 10 weeks for my wrist to heal. So I left the hospital crying and feeling powerless, because my summer holiday was lost and there was no way I could speed up the healing process – other than to rest my arm and watch my friends enjoy their free time from the distance.
After 2 months of what felt like the longest and most boring holiday ever, you might think I couldn’t wait to move my wrist and seeing my friends again. On the contrary, I was not the least looking forward going back to school hearing about all the “amazing stuff” my friends experienced during the summer.
If I had known that the pain and boredom I was feeling back then was just a glims of the pain spectrum I experienced later – I would have seen my incident from a different perspective.
Hint: Read on to find out why!
Another decade – another painful situation
Ten years later, and I find myself in a slightly different but surprisingly similar hurtful situation. The final week of my last semester of my Bachelor degree in Psychology had just started, when my then-boyfriend broke up with me. This came with no alert rings and quite literally “hit me hard in the heart”. What was even worse: after our 4-year happy and loving relationship he dumped me – on THE PHONE!
Just a couple of weeks prior to that day, we were sitting in my apartment in the south of Germany planning our summer holiday – together. We were browsing the internet for quite getaways, hidden gems and new cities to explore. Now, my life suddenly seemed meaningless. I did not even celebrate my Bachelor degree with “high excellence” graduating as one of the best students in my year. I wanted to be “strong” and not weak. So I did not lose a tear. Not once. Just wanted to continue my life and move forward.
To make it even worse, just a couple of days later, my grandpa died. And I didn’t even got the chance to say goodbye. Again, I wanted to be “strong” and did not cry. Not once.
Let that sink in for a second.
My beloved grandpa died and I DID NOT LOSE A SINGLE TEAR!
The summer past by, and I started my Master degree in another country (the Netherlands) and another language. Yet, what I wasn’t aware of back then was that I was carrying my emotional pain with me.
I did was many people out there do. I kept “strong”, holding the trillion scattered pieces inside of me together. I was – as many others – taught to resist things that don’t feel good, rather than feel them.
So I didn’t feel at all.
The thing I didn’t learn at Psychology School
After graduating with yet another (MSc.) degree cum laude at the age of 22, I moved to another country (Ticino, Switzerland) to continue with my Phd level in Psychology.
Again, another country, another language (Italian), yet the numbness remained the same.
I wasn’t happy, but at least – so I thought – I wasn’t unhappy either. Just letting life pass by. My studies, a couple of glasses of wine and occasional social conversations kept me functioning. But this could only last for so long.. (if you want to know more about what happened next read here.)
In summary, one year into my studies, I ended up quitting my job (or actually being forced to quit) and flying to (yet) another country. Ten kilograms physical weight lighter, scattered to flesh and bone. My body was light as a feather, but insight I felt nothing but darkness weighing me down. Unable to move – neither body nor mind, I found myself captured in my own sorrow.
That’s when my healing journey began – without textbooks and degrees of (external) accomplishments.
In just one year that followed, I learned more about the human body and mind than during my 6 years at university. I became a “self healer” and decided to change my path. My goal was to heal and my mission to help others do the same. Holistically through (plant-based) nutrition, natural movement (yoga), and positive psychology!
Emotional healing ≠ Physical healing
What I didn’t learn at Psychology School is that emotional healing is not like physical healing. Quite to contrary. When we suffer from physical pain, a short-term improvement can be sought. We take an aspirin. We have a massage. There might be an operation. And definitely rest!
But while physical healing requires REST (just like my fractured wrist), emotional healing requires deep inner WORK! It requires us to dive right into the hurting experience, dig deep into the open wound, and commit to consciously changing our lives – for the better!
A simple bandaid will do little good.
The truth is: emotional healing is not quite like physical healing. One requires rest, the other work!
The truth is that even when we want to numb our feelings, the emotional experiences that follow us around actually still have a message for us that we have not yet received. When we can’t let go of something, it’s because we don’t quite trust ourselves not to repeat the mistake all over again. Numbness feels better than pain.
That means we haven’t learned to let go. It means we haven’t grown, and the honest truth is, we are at risk for repeating history until we finally do – or shut down completely.
Emotional healing is a PROCESS (not a quick fix – done – healed)
“Just as there is a science for outer well-being, there is a whole science for inner well-being.”
After a difficult, traumatic or deep emotional experience, we are often left with a sort of unconscious suffering, an attachment to the past that follows us around. No matter where we go, we will not get rid of it.
We are haunted by ideas of what happened, or what could have been. The fear bleeds over into our present lives, and then forward into the future. We bind ourselves up, we become anxious shells of the people we know we are meant to be. We stop making positive progress. That sense of failure, and dissatisfaction, only makes the pain worse..
“I always thought that when I go somewhere, anywhere (the Netherlands, Switzerland, Bali..), I will be “healed”, which is obviously not true as I took myself with me.”
How to heal emotional pain?
“The power to heal ourselves and to re-direct our own lives lies in honest self-discovery.”
Those of you who have been following me for a while know that my number 1 tool for almost everything is..(believe it or not).. a holistic approach that views the person as a whole, not just the hole in the person!
A unique mix of proper nutrition, mindfulness-based techniques, journaling, yoga and many more have helped me – and others overcome the darkest times.
For those of you who are “just not into the whole yoga hype” and are looking for a more “practical” approach, these 3 steps may help you instead.
The C-C-C method
- Become CONSCIOUS by honestly asking yourself what is truly going on right now. Awareness is the first step towards healing. It all starts with being 100% honest to yourself!
- Create new beneficial CHOICES that serve you rather than hinder you from making progress, e.g. setting healthy boundaries, speaking kindly to yourself, talking to a friend about what is truly going on. Remember: You cannot always change the situation, but you can ALWAYS chose how you react to it!
- CONSISTENT action is the key! Stick to step 1 + 2 even during tough times. Through consistency comes maturity and results slowly start to show. You have a bad day? That’s ok! Not every day will be good and easy BUT there is something good in EVERY day (a delicious coffee, a neighbour giving you a smile, the sun shining on your face…)
My tip: Save these 3 steps on emotional healing to your computer, phone or notebook to come back to regularly (remember: consistency is the key)!
“Every day may not be good, but there is something GOOD in EVERY day!”
Extra tip: Take a DEEP breath, move your body and TOUCH your heart ♡
(yes, even those of you who are doubting it.)
Trust me: JUST DO IT.
And if you are really brave: close your eyes!
Let me tell you that this simple exercise can do wonders – within seconds!
As we get our hearts, minds and bodies aligned – what’s known as “emotional coherence” – our physiological systems operate at a higher level. This helps us make better decisions and support us on our progress. (Even top-athletes use this method, before they start the game.)
One more (important) thing before I let you off to practice the tools on your own:
“The hardest thing for all of us to accept is that we are fully responsible for EVERYTHING we are experiencing”
Read that again.
Stick it to your fridge, mirror and entrance door!
I hope this post helps you look at your own or someone else’s emotional healing journey a little differently from now on!
PS: There won’t be a lot of blog posts until next year, as I am about to travel for a while to disconnect to reconnect. You can still follow me on Instagram where I will continue to share useful tools with you 😇!
PPS: I still use my GOOD LIFE Journal daily, to keep moving towards my mission to help others overcome their obstacles with my work. I’ve initially developed it for myself only, but as I received so many questions about it on social media, I have decided to make it available for you too ☺️. It’s 100% FREE and was created with love and joy to spread the same to you. You can get it by clicking HERE!
I hope it helps you the same way it still continues to light up my days!